The Green Bay Packers ended their losing streak with a 20-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. While the performance was far from perfect, one encouraging factor was the improved play of rookies who stepped up and made key contributions to the win. While most rookies do not make linear improvement, here is a look at five Packers rookies who showed progress in the win over the Rams:

Packers Rookie Number Five: DL Karl Brooks

Karl Brooks received more playing time when Kenny Clark was injured in the second quarter. The rookie sixth-round pick out of Bowling Green broke up two passes while rushing the passer.

Through eight games, Brooks has recorded two quarterback sacks and three tackles for loss. He still needs to improve his run defense, but his ability to create pressure on the quarterback gives the team hope he has a bigger role in his future.

GM Brian Gutekunst drafted Brooks for his ability to penetrate at the line of scrimmage and pressure the quarterback. Through eight games, he is showing increasing flashes of that ability as he adjusts to the NFL.

Rookie Number Four: WR Dontayvion Wicks

As the season progresses, Dontayvion Wicks continues to make a case for a bigger role in the Packers offense.

Wicks caught four passes on four targets against the Rams for a team-high 49 yards. He did lose one fumble against the Rams but overall, he has been making more plays than many of the players listed ahead of him on the depth chart.

Wicks has played only 43 percent of the team’s snaps but has a catch percentage of 60.9 percent. So far, 11 of his 14 catches have resulted in first downs for the Packers.

Wicks should get more snaps as he continues to show the ability to get open and make plays.

Packers Rookie Number Three: S Anthony Johnson, Jr.

The seventh round pick out of Iowa State had a strong training camp and made the team. When injuries struck at safety, Anthony Johnson, Jr.  got into the lineup over the last three games.

Johnson played his best game against the Rams, breaking up two passes and earning his first career NFL interception. Jaire Alexander deflected the ball and Johnson was in the right place to make the pick.

Johnson needs to build on his strong performance against the Rams but is making a case for more playing time. He should continue to get it as long as the team’s two regular starting safeties remain on the shelf.

Rookie Number Two: TE Luke Musgrave

Tight end Luke Musgrave scored his first NFL touchdown against the Rams. After faking a screen to both running backs, Jordan Love threw to a wide-open Musgrave over the middle and the former Oregon State star used his speed to rumble to the end zone.

While Musgrave still needs to improve his footwork, the touchdown was part of a career-high 51-yard game.

Musgrave is second on the Packers with 27 catches through eight games behind Romeo Doubs. His catch percentage stands at an impressive 77.1.

He is rapidly closing in on the Packers rookie record for catches by a tight end which was set by Bubba Franks who grabbed 34 passes from Brett Favre back in 2000.

Packers Rookie Number One: CB Carrington Valentine

When the Packers traded starting cornerback Rasul Douglas last week, rookie Carrington Valentine assumed the starting role opposite Alexander.

Valentine came through with a strong performance against the Rams. He broke up a team-high three passes. While Valentine seemed tentative in the Broncos game, he was much more confident against the Rams.

The Kentucky alum allowed only one completed pass against him for 14 yards on eight targets. He played a smart game against the talented Rams receiving corps.

Obviously, Valentine will have to continue to perform well against better quarterbacks than Brett Rypien, but the rookie seventh-round pick showed promise and great football smarts on Sunday.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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